Rose By Any Other Name
Her skin –with sunlight streaming
through the window – almost
transparent...fragile as a moth’s wing;
strange to see her with no makeup...
Her hair, whiter than before, in just
one month; returned from hospital
that afternoon, to spend her last few
weeks, however long...at home.
Her grandkids gather round her bed;
their nan, always the centre of their lives –
specially now their granddad’s not there.
She’d see them alright, she said. They
smile, shift from foot to foot, as she tells
them, this house, a modest bungalow,
all she has – theirs, when she’s gone.
The eldest one plays Patience.
His brother holds her hand; veins,
like rivers of ink running deep. Why
must she go, he asks her. She answers,
“When you get as 'young' as me...then
you’ll understand,” still, that twinkle
in her eye. Bone and liver cancer
can destroy her flesh, she maintains,
but not her spirit. And anyway, ‘Them
medics sometimes get it wrong’.
For a while, she sleeps; on waking, bids
them fetch a lidded-pot – bone-china,
from her shelf. With trembling hands
fumbles inside for two, small pieces
of rose-quartz. Their faces light up
as she presses, one each, in grateful,
grubby palms, as if she’d given them
the world. “Keep it safe,” she says.
And I did...And, she had.